Don’t like it, don’t go
Regarding your cover story on campus free speech (November issue), it’s not just freedom of speech that is under threat. Freedom of association may be in even more danger. If someone believes they will be harmed by listening to a speaker, they don’t have to go. No one is forcing anybody to attend a public lecture. The issue of “words causing harm” is a red herring.
The reason people try to shut down public lectures is so that the people who do want to attend won’t get to go. The protesters are worried that the experience may embolden their political and ideological enemies, or create new ones. Which of course it will, if the speaker is effective. Academe needs to embrace diversity of ideas, viewpoints and politics as well as identity. The best fix, although not the easiest to implement, would be to charge the protesters for extra security. If you form a Facebook group to organize a protest, expect a bill. If you don’t pay it, expect to go to court.
Dr. Carmichael is a professor emeritus of economics at Queen’s University.
Family economics is all grown up
I was pleased to see an article about the family as a social and economic unit (“Putting the family in economics,” by Diane Peters) in the November issue of University Affairs. But I scratched my head when I read the phrase, the “growing field of family economics.” Family economics is all grown up! It has been a solidly established field of study for over a quarter century, some would say over a century if you go back to the 1908 founding of home economics as an academic discipline.
Family economics originated under the purview of home economics, which focuses on the home and family for the good of humanity. The specialization of family economics (now considered to be a standalone field of study) focuses on the economy within the home, revolving around resource management decisions and allocations, and economic interactions within the family unit and the workplace as they affect well-being and quality of life. And as explained by the article’s author, those relationships, interactions and actions have profound policy implications.
While applauding the work portrayed in this article, I also invite readers to reach out to home economics, human ecology or other related units within their university community, such as consumer studies, family sciences or family and consumer sciences, to gain additional insights into family economics. Our work also unfolds at the global level under the guise of international development, gender equality, women and family entrepreneurship, household viability in chaotic times, and women’s and children’s economic rights. The International Federation for Home Economics (ifhe.org) has a leading consultative role to play at the United Nations around the pressing issues of family economics. Enjoy discovering who we are and what we contribute.
Sue L. T. McGregor
Dr. McGregor is an independent scholar, educator and policy analyst, and a professor emerita at Mount Saint Vincent University.